After GoldenEye 007 finally gave everyone’s favorite spy a video game worth playing, everyone was looking forward to what developers Rare would do next. There was a tremendous amount of hype and speculation about Perfect Dark in the weeks and months leading up to it. And boy, did it deliver. A worthy successor toGoldenEye, Perfect Dark’s brilliant blend of narrative and gameplay made it an absolute must play if you owned a Nintendo 64.
Perfect Dark puts you in the shoes of a government agent on a futuristic Earth. Your government has recently made contact with the Maians, a friendly alien race with big heads and gray eyes. On the other side of the world, rogue corporation dataDyne has allied with the Skedar, an evil alien race that worships the practice of war. As you would expect, things go south quickly and you are sent in to accomplish some first-rate espionage.
Much like GoldenEye, Perfect Dark keeps things simple – you play through a first-person perspective, accomplishing objectives and gathering intel through a dozen or so levels. There are three difficulty levels available to choose from at the beginning of every level. The higher you ramp things up, the smarter enemies become and you will have to accomplish additional objectives to finish the level.
Perfect Dark isn’t a groundbreaking shooter, but much of that can be attributed to the massive success of Rare’s previous game. It does however, make lots of subtle improvements to the experience.
One of the major aspects of combat in Perfect Dark is the stellar enemy AI. Bad guys will cover each other, flank you, engage without being drawn out too far and even make moves for weapons you have shot out of other bad guys’ hands. This is a critical ability and can make the difference between life and death if you’re too cocky and assume you have an enemy cornered. In addition, enemies can shoot the weapon out from your hands too, lest you get too comfortable going in guns blazing every time.
There’s also graphical and gameplay upgrades, as you would expect. Perfect Dark really pushed the Nintendo 64 hardware to the max. The game also features an all-time great soundtrack rivaled by few others in gaming history.
Would I Replay the Game?
There’s a lot of replay value in this game. Rare beefed up the multiplayer and added lots of AI bots with unique specialties that you can play against. Some AI combatants will favor certain weapons over others, while some like the PerfectSim offer a more balanced challenge. You might take these AI bots lightly until they’ve pummeled you into the dirt 14 times in a row. Other gameplay modes are also available – deathmatch, king of the hill and capture the briefcase.
What makes the multiplayer of Perfect Dark so appealing is the staggering variety of scenarios that you can create for yourself to play through. In addition to the modes we’ve talked about, you can unlock additional AI bots, maps, weapons and even cheats by completing different practice and challenge levels. You can also opt to play through the main campaign with an AI teammate. There’s also split-screen multiplayer available for two player action. One of the more fun game modes is one where one of the players can play as the enemy, and they keep respawning as long as there are enemies alive in the current level. Getting in the way of top-secret government espionage was never this much fun.
Both as a single-player and multiplayer experience, Perfect Dark is an absolute classic. It shows the maturity of Rare as a developer, and the lessons they learned bringing Bond to console screens. There may be a few frame rate issues now and then (especially when there are a lot of enemies on screen), but don’t let that stop you. Crank up the difficulty to anything above easy, and settle in for some glorious FPS entertainment.